Meet the Whiteley man who quit his corporate job to teach mindfulness
Vijay Tiwary – otherwise known as Mitra which means ‘friend’ in Indian – has always been a spiritual person.
Growing up in Lucknow, near Delhi in north India, Mitra spent a lot of his time in ashrams, which are the country’s spiritual hermitages.
But his life and career hasn’t always been guided by spirituality, until he quit his high-flying job to teach others the meaning of mindfulness and launched a platform , called Mindful.You, in 2019.
Mitra, 40, says: ‘Now all my life is dedicated to bringing awareness, calmness and helping people get rid of their stress.
‘Meditation has been made quite serious. It is not serious, it is the source of joy and freedom.’
Mitra was a bright child and originally trained as an engineer.
‘I went to a boarding school in Kushinagar, which was very close to where Buddha died and we used to keep going there on school trips,’ says Mitra, who now lives in Whiteley. ‘I think somehow the environment you live in and the places you go, they slowly become part of you.’
‘I did my bachelor of engineering and electronics at Priyadarshini College of Computer Sciences, with majors in radar communication, from 1999-2003.
‘Engineering was good, I think I was a good student. But it was a little bit too boring for me.’
During the entirety of Mitra’s education, he would regularly visit and stay at ashrams in the Himalayas.
‘In 1997, I met a friend who was visiting from Australia. We met and he was going to an ashram in Rishikesh, where the Beatles went in 1968,’ says Mitra.
‘He started talking about mindfulness and he gave a book to me. I had heard of meditation but thought it was prayer. I read it and thought it was different and I carried on with them to the ashram.
‘1997 was when I got this bug for mindfulness and then I never looked back. I kept going, kept studying and it was such a huge subject. It’s anything between life and death, and love and existence.’
But Mitra’s high-flying career began in 2006 when he joined HSBC in Delhi.
‘My work took me all over the world,’ says Mitra, smiling.
‘I kept getting promoted, became assistant manager and had a team working for me. I always used the mindfulness I had learned in the ashrams to help my co-workers with anxiety.
‘This is what I saw in the corporate world and where I want someday for people to be aware, that when an employee wakes up everyday to come and work for you and all we make of them is a performance management system. A mindful workspace can be a euphoria to working.’
Mitra joined KPMG on a secondment and then on to Indra – a Whiteley-based engineering company working in air traffic control systems – in 2014.
‘Engineers are typically very stressed out. They have a lot of work on a low budget and it’s a very stressful job.
‘Even at HSBC in a banking environment, the pressure is so high.
‘Most of my bosses knew where I was going and how I was an advocate of mindfulness and meditation.
‘It was a great job but my time was now coming to an end in this career and I was getting clearer messages. I became a man on a mission to bring joy and happiness because otherwise in a corporate culture, you jump from 50k to 100k, you buy a bigger house, and you can very easily get caught in this life cycle.
‘But I know I can help.’
‘One day, I just got up and decided I will now dedicate the rest of my life to mindfulness .’
Mitra, who lives with his wife and five-year-old son, Rohan, came up with the idea of developing an app and website which will guide you through a mindful journey, reducing stress and anxiety called Mindful You .
The app comprises a selection of ‘mindful minutes’ to help you relax and meditate and there are also recordings for sleep meditation. Mitra says: ‘The app takes you on a four year journey – the first year is subtle layers, the second year is the journey, the third year is awakening, which is all based on chakras, and the fourth year is celebration.’
‘In the past seven months, all I have met is very stressful people,’ adds Mitra, who hosts mindful Zoom calls and speaks at networking events. ‘Technology has advanced so much – people can go to the moon – but how amazingly stressed we have become.’
To find out more about Mindful You, go to mindfulyou.space.
What is mindfulness?
According to the NHS, Mindfulness meditation involves sitting silently and paying attention to thoughts, sounds, the sensations of breathing or parts of the body, bringing your attention back whenever the mind starts to wander.
It is commonly practiced during yoga and tai-chi which can also help with developing awareness of your breathing.
There are three aspects to mindfulness. One is intention and working on the idea of relaxing your spirit and body. The second is attention and focusing on the experience. Thirdly, attitude is important as mindfulness involves acceptance, curiosity and kindness.
For example, being mindful is the opposite of rushing or multi-tasking.
Mitra says: ‘Mindfulness is only taught when people on Love Island commit suicide or an actor makes mindfulness popular again as if it’s a trend.
‘It should be a way of life.
‘Not everybody wants to become a monk, not everybody wants to become a buddhist, and I thought how can I help.
‘My aim is for people to understand how mindfulness is a template for transformation.
‘You can be at work, but you are still centred.’